Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Friday, November 5, 1999

A journalist’s perspective
of shootings at Xerox

IN journalism school, they teach us to tell the Big News Story by answering the questions WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW and -- most important -- WHY? After this week's fatal shooting of seven Xerox employees -- which managed to traumatize the entire state -- I feel compelled to return to the basics and revisit the five Ws and the big H of Newswriting 101:

Bullet WHO? Alleged gunman Byran K. Uyesugi. 1977 Roosevelt High grad. Forty-year-old Xerox technician. Nuuanu resident who may have been having problems at the office but who lived on a road ironically named Easy Street.

Described by those who know him as a "nice guy," "normal," "quiet." Son of Hiro Uyesugi, who, in typical Japanese fashion, seemed mortified by the shame or haji brought upon his family by Byran's alleged actions and who said to TV reporters with a pained smile masking his anguish, "I'm going to bring him another gun so he can shoot himself."

Bullet WHAT? Uyesugi reportedly shot to death seven co-workers, men ranging in age from 33 to 58. Deadliest multiple slaying in local history. Has been charged with first-degree and second-degree murder. Calmly drove off in the company van after wreaking havoc at the company.

Parked and waited in the vehicle for five hours while surrounded by a swarm of law-enforcement officials, police negotiators and media people. Became the center of attention after job as unassuming Xerox copier repairman. Probably sat and pondered his fate after allegedly deciding the fates of seven others. Finally surrendered, was taken into custody.

Bullet WHERE? The crime scene: Nimitz Highway's Xerox Engineering Systems Building, where leis now bedeck the facade in a grim, final aloha. The capture: outside Makiki's usually quiet, forested Hawaii Nature Center, antithesis of the corporate rat-race environs of Iwilei and downtown Honolulu.

Bullet WHEN? A little past 8 Tuesday morning, a typical workday that turned from mundane to madness. During a decade-long island recession that has resulted in mass layoffs, business closings and other stressful events. Early enough that the Star-Bulletin that very same afternoon included coverage of the crime, which attracted worldwide press attention.

Bullet HOW? With a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, reportedly one of 19 guns owned by Byran K. Uyesugi, of which 17 were registered. Nineteen guns!

The hunting enthusiast had wanted to make it an even 20. He'd applied for a permit to obtain another firearm but was denied because of an incident involving Xerox co-workers that resulted in his arrest for criminal property damage.

Bullet WHY? The most important question of all. Definitive answer is currently unknown but hypotheses abound: Disgruntled employee. Inability to cope. Attention seeker. Copycat crime a la Columbine. A sign of these violent, machismo-filled times. All of the above. None of the above.

MORE compelling and troublesome, however, is that the suspect didn't let the question "WHY?" stop him from allegedly aiming his gun at co-workers and pulling the trigger 28 times (police found 28 spent shell casings at the murder scene).

WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW -- all may be known. But WHY?

WHY! Apparently, Byran K. Uyesugi must have asked himself, "Why not?"

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin